Pronger's big night lifts Bandits over Bears, 5-4 He gets 2 goals, 2 assists

Karpov nets game-winner

December 31, 1996|By Phil Jackman | Phil Jackman,SUN STAFF

Just a couple of nights after what he describes as "the worst time of my life," a humiliating, 12-1 loss to Carolina, Sean Pronger had easily his best time as a Bandit last night.

It was even better than the game over Thanksgiving weekend in which he bagged a hat trick against Binghamton while celebrating his 24th birthday.

The first-line center of the Bandits racked up two goals and two assists as the home team laid a 5-4 setback on the AHL-leading Hershey Bears at Baltimore Arena.

Fact is, Pronger has been doing it all season, as his league-leading total of 24 goals attests, but he also brought an ugly minus-18 rating into the game.

"I really can't figure out why it's so bad," said Pronger of the fact that while he had been on the ice, the opposition had outscored the Bandits by 18 goals. "Maybe what it says is we're taking off up the ice too quickly and thinking offense too much."

Pronger was including Craig Reichert in his assessment, since they have been linemates through the Bandits' 1 1/2 -year history.

"Last year, we thought about not giving up goals, making that our primary goal," he said.

As young veterans on a new team, however, and with a shot of success early, Pronger continued, "We've been playing more aggressively offensively and looking for shots."

Also, Anaheim sent Valeri Karpov down recently to get his game legs back after missing eight games with a concussion, and he has been just what the Pronger line needed.

"Valeri plays the same game we do -- recycling the puck around the back of the net -- and he's so strong with the puck, he draws extra coverage. On the goal he set me up out in front of the net in the third period, the guy on me cheated to help out on him and I was wide open when he got it out to me."

It wasn't the only terrific play Karpov made as the Bandits lost a 4-2 lead early in the third period.

Karpov got the game-winner on a blistering 25-footer off a feed from Reichert with about seven minutes remaining. His goal and assist give him two goals and four assists in his five games here.

Pub Date: 12/31/96

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